Taylor Branch has referred to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a modern American founding father. Over the past twenty five years, Taylor Branch has written three volumes dedicated to the life of Dr. King. The first two books in this trilogy won just about every major literary award possible, including the Pulitzer Prize. Taylor will be at Microsoft Research discussing his third and final volume on Dr. King’s life and work At Canaan's Edge. He portrays King at the height of his moral power even as his worldly power is waning. It shows why Dr. King’s fidelity to freedom and nonviolence makes him a defining figure long beyond his brilliant life and violent end.
In At Canaan's Edge, King and his movement stand at the zenith of America's defining story, one decade into an epic struggle for the promises of democracy. Branch opens with the authorities' violent suppression of a voting-rights march in Alabama on March 7, 1965. The quest to cross Selma's Edmund Pettus Bridge engages the conscience of the world, strains the civil rights coalition, and embroils King in negotiations with all three branches of the U.S. government.
Freedom workers are murdered, but sharecroppers learn to read, dare to vote, and build their own political party. Also after Selma, King takes nonviolence into Northern urban ghettoes. Integrated marches through Chicago expose hatreds and fears no less virulent than the Mississippi Klan's, but King's 1966 settlement with Mayor Richard Daley does not gain the kind of national response that generated victories from Birmingham and Selma. We watch King overrule his advisers to bring all his eloquence into dissent from the Vietnam War. We watch King make an embattled decision to concentrate his next campaign on a positive compact to address poverty. We reach Memphis, the garbage workers' strike, and King's assassination.